Afghanistan defeated Ireland by five wickets to qualify for 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup on Friday. This was even after they managed to secure only one victory in the group stage. Skipper Asghar Stanikzai, who returned to the squad after a surgery, played a heroic knock (39 off 29 balls) to guide his side to a win. Batting first Ireland Ireland scored 209/7 in 50 overs. In reply, the Afghans got off to a terrific start courtesy of a blitzkrieg 54 by Mohammad Shahzad. As the innings progressed the men in blue and red lost wickets at regular intervals. However, the Afghans kept their composure and chased down the total with five balls to spare. With this victory, they will be joining the West Indies, who have already booked a spot in next year’s tournament in England. It will be Afghanistan’s second World Cup appearance.
Reflecting on their performance Stanikzai said, “We qualify for the 2019 World Cup. There is pain but playing for the country is important. It is a dream.” “Afghanistan is famous for coming back; after losing three games at the start we came back. Of course, the whole country will be celebrating,” he said at the post-match presentation.
— ICC (@ICC) 23 March 2018
Mohammad Shahzad, who was awarded the Player of the Match stressed that his side always wanted to keep things simple and believe in themselves. “We lost matches before coming to super six but here we played good cricket. The plan was simple – to wait for the loose delivery. I don’t care if it’s a spinner or a fast bowler. I believe in myself. My coaching staff and senior players motivate me. Thanks to them, my form is back in a crucial game. West Indies, we are coming talking about the final,” said Shahzad. Meanwhile, Afghanistan will now face the West Indies in the final of the tournament on Sunday.